President Joe Biden’s administration is providing $16.4 billion for rail infrastructure projects along Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor, including $3.8 billion for the Gateway Hudson River Tunnel.
The new funding will benefit 25 passenger rail projects via the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program. The money will help to rebuild tunnels and bridges; upgrade tracks, station power systems and signals; and advance projects to increase operating speeds, according to the White House.
The $16.1 billion Gateway project, a long-delayed effort to build a new tunnel to ease congestion for commuters riding Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains as they cross the Hudson River, officially began construction Friday after more than a decade of false starts.
Other projects receiving funds include the Frederick Douglass Tunnel in Maryland, which will get $4.7 billion to replace the 150-year old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel. The Penn Station Access project — which aims to introduce Metro-North trains to Penn Station, increase Amtrak service and cut local transit times from the Bronx to Manhattan — will get $1.6 billion. The Connecticut River Bridge project will receive $827 million.
Biden will announce the funding awards in Delaware.
“Americans need and deserve world-class rail,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters on a call Friday detailing the funding. “For decades now we have under-invested as a country in passenger rail in the US, including the Northeast Corridor which is of national significance because the economic importance of all the traffic that it carries.”
The Northeast Corridor, stretching from Boston to Washington, is the most heavily traveled rail corridor in the country, supporting 800,000 trips per day in a region that represents 20% of the US economy.
Buttigieg said project completion dates vary but that some will be finished within the next few years.
Biden is an avid supporter of trains, often speaking about his affinity for Amtrak which he commuted on regularly as a US senator. The president has regularly touted his infrastructure spending, saying it is creating high-paying union jobs and casting it as a key component of his economic agenda. But Biden has struggled to translate that into political gains with polls showing voters disapprove of his handling of the economy.
The funds announced Monday will contribute to more than 100,000 high-paying union jobs in construction, according to the White House.
“Today’s Northeast Corridor is a product of investment that dates back to the 1830s,” Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s infrastructure coordinator, told reporters Friday, saying some bridges and tunnels were in “desperate need of upgrades.”